Media in the Global World

Copy of my take home exam essay questions. Hope you enjoy.

Majority of information used in this assignment came from the in-class lectures. Additional information used, has been included in the footnotes section.

2)         Media convergence is the consolidation and merging of technologies, industries and companies throughout the media landscape. Today large corporations such as Bell have consolidated multiple different types of media outlets to form their empire. Bell merged with the Globe and Mail to form Bell Globe Media. The merger allowed Bell, initially a telephone company to expand its business at the same rate as the technology. The merger with the Globe add one of Canada’s two national newspapers to Bell’s empire. In addition to newspaper and phone, Bell has developed multiple television networks and radio stations. In addition to developing its own content, Bell has intelligently created its own cable and internet distribution network into its empire, as a way to get people to buy multiple entities within Bell’s empire. Bell is not the only Canadian company to use its financial power to buy out smaller telecommunications companies and merge with larger companies. The shift has left Canadians with fewer corporations owning Canadian media mediums and concerns have been raised over the media concentration ownership.

As technology has developed on the internet, digitally platforms have merged and redefined several traditional media platforms. The internet has changed radio, television, print, music and the film industries. Digital streaming services has dramatically changed the four of the five mediums. The internet has transformed the service both adding and subtracting to the traditional medium.

The exception to digital streaming revolution is print media. Traditional print media has been significantly reduced as the articles are easily available online for free or at little cost. Online news sources have dramatically reduced the subscription circulation of the newspaper industry and left the industry trying to find new methods and streams to create revenue.

Television and films are getting second lives through streaming services such as Netflix, which have paid syndication fees to their respective rights holders and sell the service to clientele. The Netflix and digital streaming service revolution is changing the television model. People are deciding to cut the cord cutting and to eliminate paying for tradition cable and satellite packages. The decision has created a revenue shift from traditional television and film companies to digital streaming companies such as Netflix. The shift in revenue has also created new content producers such as Netflix that can pay top dollar to produce content due to the lower overhead costs and high subscription base.

The music industry has perhaps seen the biggest changes as the MP3 has become the primary format for music. MP3 downloads, both legal and illegal has cut the profitability of the music industry dramatically. Perhaps no industry has had more formats change than music, which has seen the cassette made virtually extinct in the richer nations. While other traditional music formats such as the CD and vinyl record have seen their sales cut significantly since their prime selling years. While music streaming services have many positives to its users, by offering millions of songs for little to no cost per month, the artists are suffering because of the lack of pay for their songs. Digital streaming services are paying artists a small percentage of a penny for every time one of their songs in played. The lack of pay is a dramatic reduced from the few dollars that the artist made through the sale of a single CD.

3)         The role of advertising within the media industry is strictly financial. Companies sell ads in order to allow companies to cover a percentage of their overhead costs. The remaining percentage of overhead costs are covered through the sale of the media product. Without advertising, the media industry would not be able to exist, as the media would not be able to sell enough of its products at a reasonable price to cover all of its expenses.

The social costs of commercial media and advertising are the invasion of privacy, as internet companies track users to sell ads tailored to their users. People today are bombarded by ads everywhere they look. Every media platform contains ads, unless the user is willing to pay extra in order to not see any ads. The model that gives users this option, allows the media companies to double dip and profit through the sale of ads, and the sale of not showing ads.

The public never likes seeing annoying ads that clutter every industry, however unless they are willing to pay significantly more for their various services, ads are a necessary evil in order for people to receive fairly priced media content. Unless people suddenly become willing to pay significantly more for their content, ads will exist.

The government has restricted certain types of companies and ads to be used within Canadian society. Cigarette companies are no longer allowed to have ads on television or radio. In addition to not being allowed to advertise, cigarette companies are no longer allowed to sponsor teams or athletes. A famous example of this was Toronto born race car driver Paul Tracy who was sponsored by Players Cigarette Company. In the United States, Players was allowed to advertising on the Tracy driven car. However, when Tracey returned to his hometown for the Toronto Indy, his team had to make concessions to Canadian laws and remove the larger Players name from the car. [1]

In addition traditional ads, product placement has be used to highlight brands within media content. Companies are willing to pay top dollar to have their product featured within a television show or film. In Daniel Craig debut as James Bond in 2006 film Casino Royale, Dutch brewer Heineken paid to have Bond drink the beer and have its green bottles featured in other scenes.[2]

The final type of advertising is the title sponsorship of large events. Olympics and World Cups are sponsored by large companies such as McDonalds, Coca Cola and Visa. This companies do not directly have traditional 30 second ads, but have their logo pop up on screen with the announce saying that the event is brought to you by Visa.

4)         Media trends over the past decade, suggest that fewer voices are given the opportunity of being heard. Although the internet has created more access for people to voice their opinions and thoughts through blogs and YouTube channels. However Internet blogs and YouTube channels only the content producer to reach a smaller scaled audience. However there are exceptions to that rule, as the most successful blogs and YouTube channels have proven they are able to reach a large audience across the world.

On a larger scale national platform fewer voices are being heard because of the ownership concentration within Canada that sees just a few companies controlled the overwhelming majority of media outlets. In Canada, Bell and Rogers combine to control over half of the Canadian media outlets. With just a few other media companies combining to be the other 50 percent of media within Canada.

In the summer of 2013, Bell was approved in its purchase of Astral media for a Canadian record of over $4 billion.[3] The purchase gave Bell new pay services such as the Movie Channel, 21 English Radio stations and 52 French radio stations. The CRTC ordered Bell sell an additional 10 English radio stations and a few English and French television stations. The deal gave bell 35.8% of all English television channels, 22.6% of French television channels.

With Bell controlling such a large percentage of the media, only messages approved and promoted by Bell are talked about and presented to the public. In addition, Bell can spin any story about them in a method that illustrated them in the best light. Bell can choose who they hire and allow on air. Which guests they want and who they are willing to talk to and about.

However, new demographics are given their chance to be on air personalities due to affirmative action hires. To help with perception and public relations, companies have carried out a mass hiring of minorities within their company. The companies install minorities as on air personalities to provide a voice to minorities, however this is not done out of the kindness of their hearts. Companies have hired minorities and given them on air positions in order to have a better representation of their audience and attempt to attract a greater minority audience.

5)         Canadian society would benefit from having tighter government regulations on media ownership, however the chances that tigher government regulations ever occur is nearly zero. The Candian Radio and Telecommunication Commission has failed Canadians for the past several decades and will not be able to reverse the trends that have been established that have seen large corporations purchase and merge with companies to create a dominate media empire.

If the CRTC or a new organization formed to replace the ineffective CRTC, and introduced tighter government regulations, a larger variety of voices would have the opportunity to be heard. The rationale behind the state intervention is that the government needs to ensure that the media does not become a two or three company industry, where only the voices and ideals of those companies are heard by Canadians. The more voices, the more choices Canadians have. The more voices available also allows Canadians to become better informed about the issues they care about. While if there are only a few options, the same story will be produced and only selective pieces of knowledge will be shared.

Instead of having the current corporate model, that centralizes media in medium and large media markets cities, smaller markets would be given their own voice within their city if there was tighter regulations. By having more media outlets in markets ranging from small to large, more jobs would be created and more voices would be heard. Through the greater level of employment, more talent could be developed to improve the overall media landscape across Canada.

Tighter regulations would only effect the ownership landscape of the news media in print, radio and television. Other media content producers such as Film, music and television shows would not be effected as tighter regulations would not affect these industries, unless the government wished to increase Canadian Content Laws. Increased Canadian Content Laws would force media companies to play more Canadian music on radio and television stations would be forced to air more Canadian produced television shows. An interesting area to look at regulating would be the number of speciality television stations which have been granted exceptions from Canadian content laws.

Tighter media regulation would encourage greater private competition, however the cost of producing media can be so high that it makes it extremely difficult for companies that do not have large financial backing. This would allow the market audience to have a greater variety of choices when making the decision of what media they want to enjoy. Tighter regulations would also be better for Canadians financially. The big media companies have lobbied the CRTC to ensure that Canadians are forced to pay for Cable instead of the proposed pick and pay for the channels you want model.

 

 

[1] Article about Player Cigarette Company and its involvement with Racing. Does not directly reference Paul Tracy having to remove sponsorship, but does discuss Canadian Tobacco Laws and its effect on Canadian Race Car driving.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/players-marks-the-end-of-an-era-with-a-farewell-celebration/article1018674/

[2] CNN article about Heineken partnership with James Bond http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/marketwire/06177874.htm

 

[3] Globe and Mail article on Bell’s purchase of Astral.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/bell-astral/article12861071/

 

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